Monday, March 28, 2011
As a child I marveled at my Dad's wedding ring. It was a simple silver band that was lightly embossed with a very simple weave pattern.
Mom and Dad couldn't afford much when they first married. They lived far from both sets of parents, neither of whom were in a position to provide much support of any kind. Consequently, Mom's wedding ring was a very simple affair.
When I was still a kid, my parents had Mom's wedding ring re-worked. Years later they replaced the ring with something that was still relatively modest, yet far sturdier than the original. Dad's ring stayed the same. Despite Mom's encouragement to upgrade, Dad kept his simple wedding band.
After Dad passed away, I held his wedding band in my hand, feeling its surface that had been worn smooth by more than 50 years of wear. As I turned the ring over, something triggered a memory of the weave pattern that I had seen as a child. The pattern had been completely worn away so many years earlier that I had forgotten that it had ever existed.
Even as I think about this episode, I look at my own wedding band that I remove pretty much only when required for safety. It is a relatively simple gold band whose only notable markings are tiny characters stamped on the inside denoting the gold quality.
My ring is a rather unremarkable piece of jewelry. Yet it means a great deal to me.
The ring was originally half a size larger. In our first two years of marriage, I gained 40 lbs and then lost 60 lbs. To keep the ring from slipping off my finger we had it resized to fit my altered size. The ring has fit just fine ever since.
There are no big nicks in the surface of my ring. I hardly notice the thousands of tiny marks on the surface. The marks can more easily be seen with magnification.
My wife still wears the ring set that I gave her in two stages: the first when we became engaged, and the second when we married. Actually, she returned the engagement ring a week before the wedding so that I could get the two rings permanently welded together by the jeweler prior to the wedding.
We have had some maintenance done on my wife's ring a few times over the years. It is a somewhat delicate looking setting, but it has proven to be fairly durable. I assumed from the moment I acquired the ring that my wife would want to get something different after a few years. But she has been quite happy with her ring set and has shown no desire to upgrade.
Both of us wear our rings nearly always. I think there's some significance to that.
Neither my wife nor I are much into jewelry. The only other jewelry I wear is an old Timex wristwatch. After we were certain that we were finished having children, we got my wife a beautiful mother's ring. The ring is designed to complement her wedding set. She often wears modest earrings. Occasionally she will wear a non-valuable necklace of some sort when she dresses up. A burglar looking for jewelry in our home would leave with almost nothing of worth.
During the last few years of Dad's life, we were sometimes alarmed at how verbally brusque he was with Mom. This tendency was further complicated after a stroke, when he wasn't able to reason as clearly as before. Despite all of this, I knew that Dad was eternally devoted to Mom. Like his worn wedding band, Dad's devotion was constant.
Mom has a nasty arthritis condition in her hands. A few years ago she had a hinge installed on her wedding ring so that she could get it on and off without having to slip it over enlarged finger joints. Although Dad passed away nearly three years ago, Mom still wears her wedding ring because she still has a husband waiting for her on the other side of the veil.
As I consider my wedding band and my wife's wedding set, I realize that they really aren't worth much in money. That is, both are modest pieces of jewelry. But it's not the monetary value that is important. The real value in our rings far exceeds any earthly possession. In fact, the rings are only a poor symbol of this deeper meaning. But since they are symbols of something far greater, we will continue to wear and cherish our wedding rings.
I hope that someday after my passing my children will be able to hold my simple wedding band and reflect on how devoted I was to their mother. It would bring me great joy if that moment conjured in them happy memories.